A few days in Paris

5 January 2014

Just returned from a week in Paris. I went by myself, which I highly recommend. There’s something special anyway about being alone, a feeling that’s magnified when you’re alone in a foreign country and your grasp of the local language is terrible despite three years of study.

A few of the highlights:

  • The Musée de la Grande Guerre, devoted to World War I. This museum is technically outside of Paris, in Meaux, France (which is near the Battle of the Marne). It was incredible to be here 100 years after the War to End All Wars started. The museum is full of personal artifacts belonging to people who fought and lived in and around the war — people who experienced a local, not a world, war. Before I left I spent a few quiet moments on the roof overlooking the battlefields that surround the museum and just felt generally overwhelmed by it all.
  • Musée de Louvre. I waded through the crowds to see the Mona Lisa because that is what you do, but I got the most joy out of the museum’s wing of Egyptian antiquities. It’s all so old! Last year I read all of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books and I loved seeing the artifacts she described in the stories. Bonus: zero crowds here.
  • Les Puces de Saint-Ouen Market. Treasures around every corner.
  • The Eiffel Tower. Cliché, but I had prepared my self to be underwhelmed and it ended up being so much more impressive than I ever could have imagined. I spent literally hours over several nights standing beneath it and watching it twinkle.
  • Aimless wandering. I walked more than 81 miles throughout the week (!), pausing at basically every café I came across.